Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Love Of The Underdog

What is it with the English love of the underdog.?

Why do we seem more proud of a valiant loser that an expected winner?

This weekends 4th round cup-tie between the mighty Liverpool (multi-millionaires, 5 times European Champions etc etc) and Havant & Waterlooville* (bunch of part-timers) was a perfect case in point. Liverpool as expected came out comfortable5-2 winners yet the praise and publicity that H&W received would lead one to believe that they had won the cup itself. With H&W taking the lead twice a miracle of biblical proportions looked to be on the cards. Unfortunately Liverpools stamina finally overcame them - as one would expect from full-time athletes - but H&W's commitment certainly wasn't second best.

We English love to see the smaller team doing well. It's something Americans can't understand, they always want the best team to win because that is what the best team should do. But whenever I watch any sporting event as a neutral I always support the underdog, as do most Englishman.

Tim Henman is another case - worshipped for two weeks (well one week, possibly one and a bit if it rains) every summer but never coming close to winning Wimbledon.

In cricket England win a test series unexpectedly against the mighty Australians and the country goes wild. We beat Pakistan and hardly a soul notices.

I am sure we only won the Falklands war because we were underdogs - sending an inadequate task force half way round the world into the enemies back yard guaranteed the full support of the nation. Had the Argies invaded the Isle of Wight they'd probably still be there now.

Maybe it's inbred into our way of thinking. Generally we are a placid race. Unlike the French who organise mass protests at the drop of a hat till their government gives into their demands, the English simply shrug their shoulders accept their lot and get on with things. Maybe an underdog victory (or brave attempt) over the big boys is our substitute for a rising up against authority ? A sticking up of two fingers at those in power?

So I'll carry on supporting the underdog. We get accustomed to disappointment that way, but on the odd occasion when a surprise does happen victory seem so much sweeter.

*For my American readers, Havant & Waterlooville is like Trinidad & Tobago, Liverpool weren't forced to play two teams at once.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

These Google Ads

Ok so I sold out - I've added Google Adsense to the blog. Hopefully I will have earned enough to buy a pint by the time I'm 87.

To be honest I don't believe the vast majority earn anything at all from these little ads, it's certainly not why I added them. It's simply because it intrigues me how they work and what ads appear against what posts. For example the recent post about Hampshire Police being gay friendly brought up one for wrist surgery - tenuous to say the least but I did mention a limp wristed salute in the post at some point. It may not be there now as they seem to change with each view.

But try as I might, I can't find any connection between the post preceding this one - about our forthcoming wedding arrangements - and a Colon Hydrotherapy Clinic in Reading !

Unless of course Google Ads are trying to tell me there is more to married life than I realised !

(I normally try to find a picture to illustrate a blog post - in this instance I decided it's better for everyone if I don't)

Monday, 21 January 2008

Wedding Plans

Christmas has come and gone and the time has really come to get on with our wedding arrangements. There really is no putting it off any longer (as the countdown thingamajig on the left keeps reminding me).

The important stuff is all booked it's the smaller things that seem to make up a much longer list. Yesterday we spent the afternoon in Debenhams zapping seemingly everything in sight with a bar code scanner to create our wedding list. What we thought would take half an hour ended up as a four hour marathon. I found it quite a difficult thing to do - one the one hand most people nowadays expect a wedding list to be available so as to avoid the traditional 2 dozen toasters. On the other hand, the same as when I am asked what I want for Xmas/birthday I don't want to appear greedy and suggest something that the giver can't afford. We stuck with price ranges that we would pay if buying things for ourselves - it would have been easy to go mad (who on earth pays £19 for a teaspoon !!!!) - and hopefully we have managed a reasonable list. Any readers wishing to purchase a present the online list is can be viewed at .... only joking.

Last night we confirmed the honeymoon so that's sorted. Not much else to do now .... except meet the vicar again, order of service , get the invitations out, discuss music with dj, finalise the catering, cars, suits, ties, gifts, buttonholes, no doubt much more I've forgotten to mention.

Meanwhile that countdown clock keep on counting down !

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Big Guns

Aim ---- FIRE !!!, originally uploaded by Wurzel.

On Saturday we visited the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson up on Portsdown Hill.

A museum of the history of artillery guns and canons doesn't sound the most fascinating place in the world, first impressions can be so wrong.. The nearest I've ever come to the military was a St Georges Day parade with the Cubs so big guns are not the sort of thing I know a lot about. The sheer size of some of them is staggering, the intricate details of some of the more ancient ones make them truly works of art.

Exhibits range from a time when I thought the world was still using bows and arrows, to the components that were confiscated by customs during the Iraqi Supergun scandal of the 1990s and beyond.

The Fort itself has been saved and restored by Hampshire County Council - for once a council decision I can't criticise. Well worth a visit, and totally free as well !

( Whilst we were there we were approached by a guy from the Portsmouth News and asked to pose as "interested visitors" for a photo for an article he was writing for next weeks paper - well what self respecting media-whore could refuse?)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Mincing The Beat

It has just been announced that Hampshire Police has been jointly honoured with the dubious distinction of being the most gay- friendly police force in the country. This isn't referring to the way that they deal with gay people, but as an employer. Indeed they are now, according to the Stonewall Index the third best public and private sector employer of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers in the country.

I really can't understand announcements such as this. Presumably, the whole premise is to highlight diversity and understanding (and by their absence/low position highlighting those that fail), but in my eyes only go to emphasise that, to some people, there is a difference. Basically they are saying "we believe that it doesn't matter whether you are gay or not, so just to prove how we don't discriminate we are going to bracket you into groups to prove our point" To even make such a statement can only emphasise discrimination, not lessen it. I have a similar problem with a lot of so called "racial issues" - often on matters where no issue even exists until some well meaning liberal nut-case decides to highlight it, thus creating the situation they claim to be trying to avoid

To me a policeman is a policeman, it makes no difference whether he is straight, gay, celibate or the biggest pervert on earth as long as it has no bearing on the way he or she carries out his or her duties. So why should the Police (or any employer) differentiate? How do they know who is what? Surely it isn't a question that is asked in a job application or performance review so how can they come with any meaningful statistics regarding sexual preference?. Is there a secret signal like a mason's handshake, maybe a limp wristed salute?

I have a friend who is a gay policeman working in Hampshire. As far as I know he keeps his private life to himself at work, as I'm sure do many others, so the accuracy of any such figures are immediately suspect. Maybe it would be in their interest to "come out" officially, after all if this is something that their employer is proud to be associated with then one could assume that positive discrimination can only help them up the promotion ladder.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

FA Cup 3rd Round Day

Normally one of the most exciting weekends of the football calender, my own team, Southampton, has been drawn against Leicester. And I really don't care.

"The Cup" usually manages to conjure up something exciting, and no doubt it will do this year, but I have no expectations that any drama will be involving my team this time round. In a season more boring than any I can remember the cup, baring some miraculous improvement in form creating a now unlikely push for promotion, was the last hope for any excitement this year. Yet when the draw was made, who did we come up with? One of the "Big 4" ? No. A non-league minnow? No. We got the team we had played the day before. Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn. Sums up the season really.

So, I have no hopes or dreams that I'll be seeing scenes like this again come May this year. I'll try to extend my excitement by donating funds to the local bookie in the vain hope that some unlikely underdogs will come good against top flight opposition.

And you never know - Saints may surprise me yet !

Friday, 4 January 2008

Blow Away The Cobwebs

We spent New Year down in Cornwall, sharing a "quiet night in" on New Years Eve.

New Years Day was spent taking a walk around the hills and beaches of Penwith, at various points along the B3306, my favourite stretch of road in the whole wide world. What better way to blow away the cobwebs of the old year and clear your head for the year to come.

Cornwall - Balancing Rocks 1 Cornish Tin Mine Chimney
St Ives Keep Out
Click any image to enlarge

Thursday, 3 January 2008

That's That For Another Year Then

That's that then - Xmas and New Year over and done with for another year.

Some things never change.
  • It wasn't a white Xmas
  • Everything worth watching was on BBC1
  • The break was too short
  • I spent far more than intended
  • Turkey sandwiches are simply the best
  • New Years Eve is still the most depressing night of the year.
  • For a week or so, no-one knows what day it is
One change I did notice this year was the lack of outdoor lights round our way. Outdoor light displays - some, it has to be said, more tasteful than others - have been a growing trend over the recent years but this year they were conspicuous by their absence. Whether this was down to the size of electricity bills nowadays, an environmentally friendly conscience or simply not being arsed I don't know but I kinda missed them .

The tree and decorations - or what little of them the kittens allowed to remain intact - are put away, the lounge looks twice as big and twice as tidy again and everything looks back to normal. And as much as I look forward to Xmas, normal is what feels best.

Happy New Year everyone - only another 356 shopping days to Christmas.